You might be thinking to yourself; “What? My white gold jewelry is solid gold, why do I have to plate it in anything?” Well, that’s a good question. Take a good long look at your white gold pieces, especially your rings. Are they looking a bit yellow? If they are, then it’s worth your time to read up on why you need to replate white gold.
What Is White Gold?
A lot of people think that all gold is natural. That’s a big misconception within the jewelry industry- while pure gold can be found via mining, the metal in this state is too soft to use for jewelry purposes. As a result, pure gold is usually combined with other stronger metals to form karat alloys, such as 10k, 14k, and 18k gold. The higher the karat number, the higher the percentage of actual gold within the combination.
Different colors of gold are also created the same way. Rose gold, for instance, is a combination of copper and gold that gives it a signature pink hue. White gold is an alloy made from gold and silvery-colored metals such as nickel or palladium.
As a result, white gold without any treatment can range from a silvery-brown to a buttery yellow-gray. Most white gold jewelry on the market have been plated with rhodium, a precious bright white metal that gives white gold its characteristic appearance. This covers its original color, confusing many people into believing that white gold is naturally silvery.
Over time, the rhodium plating wears off, revealing the color of the white gold underneath. That’s when you’ll have to take the item to the jeweler and have them replate the piece.
How Do I Replate White Gold?
In order to restore the color of your white gold jewelry, you’ll have to take it to a jeweler. The jeweler will polish your item, and rhodium plate it. Rhodium is a rare precious metal that does not tarnish and has a very strong, bright white color. It’s not commonly used for solid pieces of jewelry, because it is very difficult to manufacture, but it’s used for plating and detail work on other items.
The plating process involves a lot of chemical preparation, including several rinses in distilled water before placing the jewelry in a tank. Electricity runs through the tank, fusing rhodium to the surface of your item.
Aside from maintaining your item’s color, rhodium plating can help protect your jewelry from scratches and dents. In addition, some individuals are highly sensitive to nickel, which is a metal used to make white gold. Plating the jewelry in rhodium, a hypoallergenic metal, will prevent allergy reactions from occurring, allowing you to wear your jewelry with no issues.
How Long Does Rhodium Plating Last?
Rhodium plating usually lasts from six months to even a few years, depending on the amount of usage, the type of item, and your own lifestyle. For example, rhodium plating on rings will wear off more quickly than other items such as necklaces or earrings. This is because rings are worn on the hand, and the amount of surfaces you touch on a daily basis will rub away the plating over time.
The Cost of Rhodium Plating
Rhodium plating white gold is usually around $35. Larger items require more rhodium to plate, so expect prices to go up for those pieces.
Now you’re set! Remember in order to keep your jewelry bright and silvery you’ll need to replate white gold every now and then. If you’re in need of some touch-up, comment below.